The Office Bully: What's a Co-Worker to Do? Part II
Pauline A. Salvucci, M.A.
You're on your way to work. You feel tightness in your chest, a knot in your stomach and tension
in your shoulders. You haven't even stepped foot in the office and already there's physical chaos in your body! You're aware
of the dread you feel, and of of how nervous and jittery you are. You didn't sleep well last night. Come to think of it, you
really don't sleep well at all anymore. You used to sleep lots better, before all this began.
Nagging questions lurk
in the back of your mind. When will it begin today? What will happen? How long will it take before you hear that caustic tone,
those biting words and scathing looks, those dreaded taunts accompanied by that all too familiar condescending snarl? You
remember the shock waves of humiliation and shame from the last time. You dread it happening
again. You want it to go away. You just want it to stop!
You're the target
of the office bully's behavior and you don't know what to do. You've thought of complaining to your boss, but you feel that
would be tattling. As a child you learned that a tattler wasn't respected. You don't want to feel like a child needing parental
rescuing. Besides, what if your boss doesn't believe you?
your boss will think you're over-reacting. That would be horrible! You decide not to talk to your boss. You sink further into
a state of self-doubt. You feel alone, disturbed and without direction.
fantasize about quitting your job. That would solve the problem, but you feel too shaky to begin job hunting. Your confidence
has been diminished, if not shattered, and the enthusiasm you once had for your work has vanished. Your know that your productivity
and concentration have decreased and that your work focus is mechanical and routine at best. Your ability to think creatively
is a thing of the past. You wonder who would hire you.
All this makes you feel sick. You want to talk with some of
your friends, family and maybe even your co-workers, but where do you begin? Will they understand how bad this really is?
Most everyone has to deal with some stress, maybe they will think that you're being just too sensitive, or worse still, even
exaggerating. Then too, in the case of, your co-workers, they probably wouldn't want to get involved. After all, you think,
it's not their problem.
You spiral further into isolation and fantasize about retaliating. The fantasies
are rich in retribution. They give a respite, some temporary solace and satisfaction, but they're just fantasies. The reality
is - you're in trouble. You ask yourself why this is happening to you. You don't have an answer. The one thing you do know
is this is consuming your life, and it has to stop!
If you, a colleague, friend or family member has ever been the
target of workplace bullying, you are not alone. Each year thousands of individuals experience this nightmare. Bullying is
a serious form of WORKPLACE VIOLENCE.
By utilizing a tri level approach, based on practical strategies involving self-awareness,
self-responsibility and self-assertiveness, an individual who is the target of workplace bullying can move from a victim stance
to a position of strength, survival and self-respect. It isn't easy, but it is possible.
SELF-AWARENESS MEANS ACKNOWLEDGING THE REALITY:
* Be aware of how you present yourself in body language, tone of voice and over all demeanor. Bullies can easily pick
up social cues and zero in on them. A posture connoting insecurity or shyness, the avoidance of eye contact in conversation,
or sometimes speaking very softly can focus the bully's attention on you as their next target.
* Practice making changes
so you feel in charge of yourself. Try different paces when walking and learn what feels more powerful to you. Practice by
watching yourself in a mirror. Listen to the quality of your voice. Increase its depth or tone. Play these changes on a tape
recorder. Listen to the differences you hear. Pay attention to how the differences make you feel. Look at your face in a mirror.
Make eye contact with yourself and hold it. Choose a strong phrase that affirms you. Keep it in a visible place. Repeat it
out loud and often.
* Don't deny or minimize what you feel. One of the bully's major tools is to get you to doubt your
own experience and feelings. Don't do it! Allow yourself to be aware of exactly what you feel. This is no time to hide your
head in the sand. If you think that you would benefit from receiving professional help, then get it. The thought crossed your
mind, so go with it! The longer you try the "stiff upper lip" routine, the more difficult and intolerable your situation may
become. Getting help is a form of strength, not weakness!
* Write down exactly what you think and how you feel when
you have been attacked by bullying behavior. Writing down this information validates you. Holding onto these thoughts and
feelings mentally often causes confusion and self-doubt. Don't keep your thoughts and feelings a secret from yourself! Get
them down on paper.
* In addition to feeling shame and humiliation, you may also
feel other emotions such as resentment and anger. These emotions are appropriate! You can use the energy derived from them
when you are ready to move to your chosen course of action.
* If others in the workplace ignore what is happening to
you, it doesn't mean that your experience isn't real. It takes enormous courage to face what others ignore or avoid. Own your
experience! Co-workers or bosses who ignore bullying behavior share in the responsibility of its presence.
SELF-RESPONSIBILITY MEANS CHOOSING TO SURVIVE:
* Take excellent care of yourself.
While rest may be difficult, get as much as you can. Pay attention to proper nutrition and exercise. Take time to reward or
pamper yourself. The point of this is to acknowledge and value your self-worth. When a bully's attacks are aimed at your most
vulnerable points, you need to counter those assaults by reminding yourself that you are a worthwhile person capable of self-care.
This will strengthen your self-image and your resolve to survive the weight of the bully's assaults.
* If at all possible
avoid being in any isolated space where you might be alone with the bully. Be aware in particular of places like elevators,
parking lots, garages, lavatories or stairways. Staying out of the bully's physical range offers no opportunity for additional
face to face attacks.
* Do not suffer in silence. Silence is definitely not a virtue in this instance! This does not
mean that you engage the bully in discussions. Not at all. If you choose to confront the bully, that will come when you have
the emotional reserves to do so. Don't take this on before you have established those reserves. What not keeping silent means
is that you honestly and opening discuss what is happening to you with your family and friends. Give them a complete and honest
picture of what you are experiencing. The bully is counting on your shame and humiliation
to keep you silent. Talk, tell your story. Get it out. You need to be heard by those who care and love you. Do not hide in
* Enlist your family and friends to support you by telling them exactly what you want from them.
For example, perhaps it would be helpful to have friends and family members share stories of their experiences of you where
they can recount your strengths, successes and accomplishments. It is important for you to remember and acknowledge yourself
before the the bully came into the picture. Allow those close to you to share their stories with you. Take in what they say.
Realize that the bully is
counting on you to forget, discount and dismiss all the positives and pluses about yourself.
Don't isolate yourself or hide. Stay connected with the people and things in your life that have always given you pleasure.
Listen to your favorite music, go to a movie with a friend, go fishing if that's your pleasure. Draw or paint, sing, ask someone
to cook a meal for you, go to places and do things that help you to feel connected with yourself and with others. If you love
nature, allow yourself the pleasure of its company. If cities turn you on, then spend a day soaking up the activity. If you
have friends, family or a partner to share this with you, so much the better.
* The hard truth is that you are ultimately
responsible for how you will get through this miserable time in your life. People can want to help, but you are the one who
will decide and choose to open the door to help yourself, and to give others entrance to join you.
SELF-ASSERTIVENESS MEANS DECISION-MAKING IN ACTION:
* It's decision making time. But before
you take action, it's important to review all your options carefully. You have three choices: to leave and not fight back,
to leave and fight, or to stay and fight. No one choice is better than any other. It is up to you to decide what course of
action is best for you.
* You may decide that your health, sanity and well-being aren't worth the cost of the pain
and suffering, so you may make the decision to leave your job. There is NO shame in this. Leaving might be the best decision
you make, since it indicates that you are strongly aware of the importance of taking care of yourself. Your well-being comes
first! Staying in a work environment where you may suffer a nervous breakdown is a costly and devastating experience. If you
decide to leave your job, be confident and trust that you have made the right choice for yourself. If you decide to leave,
and to take action, then some of the following may be helpful for you prior to your leaving.
may decide to stay on the job and fight. If that is the case, then several important issues need to be addressed. The first
is documentation. You will need to record the behaviors, words and action that the bully has directed towards you. Record
this information clearly and unemotionally. These are facts so record them as such. If you can put them in context do so,
just do it clearly.
* If there are witnesses to any of the incidents you record, then list the presence of those individuals.
Notate the dates and times of each occurrence. Do not leave this record in the office where it could be discovered. Do not
type this record on your computer.
* Watch with whom you speak! This is not to encourage you to be paranoid, but, to
be wise. Oftentimes workplace bullies have their coterie of friends who may act as spies and observers. Some may even try
to befriend you to get you to talk. Be prudent. To speak too openly and too freely may sabotage your plan to fight.
If you have friends and allies at work, and choose to speak with them, make sure they are willing to support you when it comes
time to bring this to a head. Perhaps some of them also have been bullied, and will add their own record at that time. There
is strength in numbers.
* Know what your company's internal policies are with regard to employee conduct. Human Resource
Departments are responsible for creating and retaining these documents, and many others. Some companies have written codes
of conduct for the workplace. Become familiar with the contents of these documents.
* Now that you have gathered and
documented your records, you may wish to support yourself with specific legal knowledge and information. In this case, the
National Employment Lawyers Association located in San Francisco, California is an organization which represents employees
Sharing your documentation with an attorney may be the best way to determine what further course
of action you have at your disposal. Some companies have risk management departments, some have a forum for complaints and
grievances. Checking with an attorney and offering all the information you have gathered will afford you the opportunity to
review your options and decide on your next step.
Pauline A. Salvucci, M.A. is a Business and Personal Coach with over 25
years experience in counseling, organizational development and training. Pauline coaches
both individuals and small
groups. She is the principal of The Coaching Connection.
Visit her website at: http://www.coachingconnection.comE-mail: email@example.com<
How to Slay the Fear Monger Through Creativity
Valery Satterwhite, The Official Guide to Empowerment
Fear cripples creativity.
Nothing new there. We've all experienced fear as we reach for inspiration, motivation and satisfaction. Fear dwells at the
bottom of the pit of desperation. Fear is the lowest of lows.
I have a client who
came to me and said that she felt like she was stuck in a vat of peanut butter, unable to make any headway in her career as
artist. She was frustrated, exhausted and, most of all, disappointed in herself. What little energy she had left was spent
beating herself up emotionally about her failure to create, her inability to birth an inspired idea. She hadn't completed
a painting in months.
Many people experience highs and lows, some more extreme than
others. To sustain creativity during the ebb and flow of the emotional spectrum it is best to "Keep on keepin' on." Creative
musicians such as Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, and John Lennon have written songs about the necessity of forward movement to
keep from drowning in fear or desperation. If you don't swim you'll sink! Swimming in a forward direction is optimal. At the
very least, go with the flow.
"Nothing happens until something moves." -
work depends upon your ability to create and tap into inspiration and you find the creative process elusive you may be dragging
the reluctant along in the form of fear. Fear has stopped many dead in their tracks. The frightened Inner Critic chatters
endlessly demanding that you hold yourself back, limit yourself to stay safe.
Inner Critic is woefully misguided. What will keep you safe is not following the direction of the part of you that says NO
to what you wish to create. What will keep you safe is to remember who you are, an empowered human being with the gifts and
talent to create whatever it is that you imagine that is your birthright.
primary fear was that she didn't have another creative thought in her. And wouldn't have another inspired idea ever. And in
this fear she brilliantly created no creativity, no inspiration. The more she tried to force a creative moment the more she
came up empty. Creativity and inspiration is delivered through the flow of life. You cannot force flow. Force is swimming
upstream. Going with the flow is nature's life-affirming power.
"Death is not the biggest
fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive.. the risk to be alive and express what we really are." - Don
creativity about, really? Creativity has a lot to do with the willingness to take risks, small baby step risks that help overcome
procrastination, the fears of rejection, failure and change. People fear change so they stay safe in the current comfort zone
not willing to take one step beyond it. Fear of failure or success is a desperate attempt to stay put. The creative flow returns
when you let go of your grip on your current comfort zone. Let go of your blanket of false security, false fears and resistance
to inevitable change.
The funny thing about fear is that most of what people fear
never happens unless they create the fearful experience themselves. Many people avoid public speaking because they fear they
will drop dead of embarrassment if they forget a line, trip over the podium or evoke some other horrible public humiliation.
seen many a speaker, even on live television broadcasted internationally, say or do something that ended up as a laughable
YouTube video and not one of them has ever died as a result. Oh, they may suffer a bit of unwanted attention for a day or
two. What many who have suffered deep humiliation have learned from the experience is priceless.
In learning that they did not die, that the world did not come to an end, they realized
how silly their fear really was. Many people have even benefited greatly from public humiliation
or even simple private criticism. We all admire and applaud the people who fall down publicly, dusted themselves off, and
kept on keepin' on.
It's not what happens to you that shapes your life. It's what
you do with what happens to you that creates your future. Whether you are an artist, writer, actor, musician or creator of
any kind the important thing is to continue create art, write, act, or make music. Let go of any thoughts that what you create
has to be good. Creativity is a process. Sometimes creating a stink bomb births inspiration for the rose.
"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power,
and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free." -
Valery Satterwhite is a Creative Mentor who specializes in empowering people to create more
passionately, profoundly, productively and profitably. Learn how to trust your intuition, acknowledge your truth, and disarm
your fear and self-doubt. Valery developed a proven unique "Inner Wizard" methodology to empower the Wizard Within to actualize
and express your full creative potential. Subscribe today at InnerWizard.com. Get Free "Empower the Wizard Within tips" too!